Michaela Zöschg

PhD student

Thesis: in signum viduitatis et humilitatis‘: European Queens and the Spaces, Art and Inhabitants of their Clarissan Foundations, ca. 1250-1350

Supervised by Prof. Joanna Cannon

Funded by

  • The Courtauld Institute of Art
    • AAH Fellow Grant 2014 (awarded by the Research Forum)
    • The Steven and Elena Heinz Scholarship 2011-2014
    • The Mr. and Mrs. Lepic Scholarship 2011-2014
  • The British Archaeological Association, The Ochs Scholarship 2014

The fourteenth-century Clarissan foundations of Santa Maria Donna Regina in Naples (Italy), Santa Maria de Pedralbes in Barcelona (Spain), Santa Clara e Isabel in Coimbra (Portugal) and Königsfelden (Switzerland) were built as burial sites for, or at the initiative of dowager queens. Not only were these monasteries erected in the most fashionable Gothic styles of their time, they also were decorated with extensive cycles of wall paintings and stained glass, and furnished with precious altarpieces and other valuable artefacts. Although the importance of each of these foundations in regard to both female royal patronage and the visual culture of female monasticism is increasingly recognised, no attempt has previously been made to study them as a group and as part of a broader, pan-European phenomenon. My thesis seeks to fill precisely this research gap: by taking a new comparative approach in investigating these monasteries, their spaces and artworks, I aim for a better understanding of late medieval patronage by royal women in a specific Franciscan context.


  • 10/1997–11/2004. University of Vienna (A), with exchange at University of Hamburg (DE), Diploma Study in Art History (Magistra phil., equivalent to Master’s Degree), graduated with distinction
    Dissertation: Flügelretabel und Polyptychon. Form und Funktion von Altaraufsätzen um 1300

Research interests

  • Medieval art production and patronage of the mendicant orders
  • Gender, religious practice and space in the late Middle Ages
  • Medieval art and the senses (especially sound)
  • Artistic exchange and transfer
  • Medieval textiles


  • 10/2006–07/2007. Institute of Art History, University of Vienna (A)
    Course for first-year undergraduates: Altarbilder im Spätmittelalter nördlich und südlich der Alpen
    providing students with basic knowledge of art historical research, writing and presentation skills

Conference papers

  • “Invisible Voices: Reflections on Clarissan Church Space and the Aural”, Conference: Architecture and the Friars: New Work and Future Prospects, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, May 2014
  • “A Royal Woman as Art Agent in the Medieval Mediterranean? The Case of Queen Sancha and the Poor Clares of Mallorca and Aix-en-Provence”, Session: Coast to Coast: Artistic Exchanges and Cultural Identities from Pisa to Barcelona in the Middle Ages, The Association of Art Historians’ 40th Anniversary Annual Conference, London, March 2014
  • “San Damiano and Santa Chiara in Assisi”, On-site presentation, Summer School Images, Objects and a Sacred Site: Assisi in an Transcultural Perspective, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz–Max-Planck-Institut, Florence, September 2013
  • “Funerary Monuments for Royal Women in Clarissan Monasteries: Italy and Beyond”, Study day: Monumental Sculpture in Late Medieval Italy: Little-known Materials, Overlooked Connections and New Questions?, University of Edinburgh, May 2013

Recent publications

  • “Quellen zur Arenakapelle”, in Michael Viktor Schwarz, Giottus Pictor. Band 2: Giottos Werke (Vienna: Böhlau, 2008), pp. 165-217.

Other academic activity

  • 13/2015. Co-convenor of the conference Sister Act: Female Monasticism and the Arts across Europe 1250-1550 (The Courtauld Institute of Art, London)
  • 11/2013. Co-convenor of the lecture series Art History and Sound (The Courtauld Institute of Art, London)
  • 12/2012 – 05/2013. Co-convenor of the workshop series The Listening Art Historian: A Workshop Series on Art History and Sound (The Courtauld Institute of Art, London)